Are you more ‘T’ than me? Let me ask it this way. Are you more of a trans* person than I am? What started this question was a phone call I had with another transwoman who had completed her SRS ten years ago. She is well known in the local community as a resource, guide and a tireless defender of trans* people. It was recommended that I speak with her by a mutual acquaintance. During our chat, she asked, “What are you?” I was unclear, then she asked, “How far are you going? Are you going to have sexual reassignment surgery?” I replied that I did not anticipate having the surgery, just live full-time. She shot back, “I don’t work with you people. If you aren’t going all the way, then I don’t want to be bothered. I only want to help people who are committed. I don’t do makeup and hair and all that stuff. You’ll need to find someone else.” I was shocked at first. We continued to talk and found much common ground between us. The conversation was lively, poignant, brutally honest, funny and ultimately a huge help. I came away with a lot of insight and much to ponder and a tremendous amount of respect for her and her work in our community, but also a realization that discrimination exists in the trans* community. My naiveté originally made me think all of us trans* people were kindred spirits and we were all sisters and brothers. Alas, not so.
I had hoped our shared struggles, blessings and experiences would have permitted us to rise above these biases. However, what I am seeing is the trans* community is as diverse as the cisgender community. Some of us are nice and some are not. Many of us are accepting and inclusive and many are not. We are like everyone else in we deal with our own biases and preconceived notions. I see these biases in gay and lesbian community too. Many gay men don’t associate with lesbians and vice versa and being bisexual seems to draw fire from both camps. My son has a long-time dear female friend who is also a lesbian. She has received criticism from some of her peers for hanging out with “that straight guy”. It seems a case could be made that the LGBTQ community is just like everyone else when it comes to living with our own.
We all have a place in the trans* community and we all need to stand together. Am I considered less of a woman then the post-op because I chose to be non-op? Is a post-op less of a woman than a cisgender woman? Do I as a transwoman have more standing in the trans* community then the crossdresser? Do drag kings and queens deserve less respect then genderqueers? No, we are not less. Yes, we deserve the same respect. Gender is in your head and your heart and your soul. Gender is not genitalia, nor is it the outcome of a surgical procedure. It is all how we chose to express and present ourselves. It is how we choose to live our lives and be the people we are meant to be. If I like to wear dresses and heels, use makeup and wear jewelry, then that’s my expression and it is not better or worse than my trans sister who chooses to wear flannel, jeans and Doc Martens. It’s how we choose to present and live as we truly are. It is how we chose to present, live and be who we are. Are you more ‘T’ than me? I don’t think so.